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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

HUG has two approaches to contributor's Posts. If you have, like us, a scientific mind and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual area of HUG is for you. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and can be easily understood and tried with negligible technical knowledge.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings sub-forum is you. If upon examination we think that Posts are better suited to one sub-forum than than the other, they will be redirected during Moderation, which is applied throughout the site.

Questions and Posts about, for example, 'does amplifier A sounds better than amplifier B' or 'which speaker stands or cables are best' are suitable for the Subjective Soundings area.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters regarding what appears here. That said, very few Posts are rejected. HUG Moderation individually spell and layout checks Posts for clarity but due to the workload, Posts in the Subjective Soundings area, from Oct. 2016 will not be. We regret that but we are unable to accept Posts that present what we consider to be free advertising for products that Harbeth does not make.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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The Harbeth integrated amplifier

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  • #31
    Seriously, if really want 1 stop solution, why not do it all? why not Harbeth Stand? Harbeth room acoustic treatment? Harbeth CD player? how abt Harbeth Network Player and Harddisk? Computer software? Music play station? How abt tweaking device like footer?

    Best is a Harbeth hifi combo with radial cone.

    If all these really work? huh?
    "Bath with Music"

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by kittykat View Post
      Id start by going back to basics - speaker placement - check, room size - tick, damping- tick and seating arrangements- tick. im sure there are M40 owners here who are more than happy to give accurate guides, measurements and tips.
      I would agree with kittykat. A while ago one HUG member told me that according to his 30 years in the industry he considers room acoustics to be as important as the speaker. It took me many months to realize the truth of his statement. I have been reading a lot over the past few months, and almost everywhere I look the issue of room acoustics will pop up in one way or another. For example I am reading Phase, Time and Distortion in Loudspeakers at present, and lo and behold:

      Indeed, the room itself is still the greatest offender - even a coffee table that is in the acoustic path of the loudspeaker will have a profound effect on the overall response. Very few rooms are acoustically dead enough (IMO), and I have seen a great many photos of people's systems set up on polished marble (or whatever) floors in relatively bare rooms, with almost no acoustic deadening materials to be seen.

      Human hearing is very adept at picking the original sound from the reverberant field, provided the early reflections are not so early (or are sufficiently loud compared to the direct sound) that they influence the direct sound. Given the highly reverberant listening rooms of some people, I have difficulty understanding how they can even tell what anything really sounds like - yet they will happily espouse their theories on what makes the sound better, ignoring the fact that their room will destroy the sound of any loudspeaker.

      Comment


      • #33
        Amplifiers - rationalism

        Originally posted by EricW View Post
        Seriously, why not a line of Harbeth speaker cables and interconnects? If the aim is to calm buyers who experience anxiety about what will work "best" with Harbeth speakers...
        Why not indeed?

        As for amps, I do not doubt that they can indeed 'sound different' - of that I am certain. My point is that without even rudimentary test equipment you are not able to even begin to explain why they may sound different. If they don't measure the same - they may well sound different. If they are being used at different levels - which they will be unless you measure the loudness with test equipment - they will probably sound different. My point (again) is that you are not able to draw any valid conclusions that are worthwhile (i.e. as a piece or rational science) unless you equalise the levels and frequency responses exactly and make instantaneous switchovers between the amps. And when you do take the trouble to set up and construct a rational scientific test, those differences that you're sure that you hear and you'd swear on your grandmother's grave are tangible, suddenly diminish to virtually nothing or less.

        And it's not just me barking on about this relentlessly. There have been many proper, scientific tests of amplifiers conducted over the years and they always draw the same conclusions, namely, under controlled conditions the strongly held preferences disappear. Anyone who has studied human behaviour or marketing will have been thoroughly trained in this area, as indeed I have been.

        No user, no matter how well intentioned, can make a rational comparison of amplifiers, CD players or the like without test equipment to be sure that the basic parameters of loudness and response are taken into account in the comparison. That is a fact. It's so obviously a fact that I shouldn't have to mention it amongst rational people.
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

        Comment


        • #34
          Originally posted by A.S. View Post
          As for amps, I do not doubt that they can indeed 'sound different'... My point is that without even rudimentary test equipment you are not able to even begin to explain why they may sound different...
          For sure, wines taste different!

          Sebastien

          Comment


          • #35
            What measurement are we talking about? Can we measure soundstaging, imaging, depth, slam, dynamics, etc. or all these are just illusions? Is there an equipment that can measure soul and emotion in music?

            To quote Sebastien, is there some sort of device that can measure the taste of different wines?

            I have nothing more to contribute to this thread and am looking forward to the new Harbeth integrated.

            Comment


            • #36
              What we are witnessing in this thread is a classic subjectivist vs rationalist dichotomy dichotomy, specific to the audio engineering in our case. Not everybody knows what this really means. I think the following article would shed some light on it.

              Science and Subjectivism in Audio
              In the last twenty years, there has developed a major dislocation between the scientific evaluation of audio equipment and "subjective" assessment, the latter philosophy having come to be called "subjectivism"....
              Below is another very revealing article: Dishonesty Of Sighted Listening Tests
              In other words, if you want to obtain an accurate and reliable measure of how the audio product truly sounds, the listening test must be done blind. Itís time the audio industry grow up and acknowledge this fact, if it wants to retain the trust and respect of consumers. It may already be too late according to Stereophile magazine founder, Gordon Holt, who lamented in a recent interview:

              ďAudio as a hobby is dying, largely by its own hand. As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me..Ē

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by ryder View Post
                To quote Sebastien, is there some sort of device that can measure the taste of different wines?
                Detailed chemical analysis of each wine would show the differences. How the chemical composition would correlate to the descriptions given by experts I cannot say. It would be an interesting experiment.

                As to amps? Yes, they do sound different, but I am sure those audible differences are objectively measurable. I have not owned much HiFi in my 60 years, for I have kept what I bought a long time.

                Shortly after graduating (had no money) I bought a Wharfedale kit which I drove from a Goodmans Tuner-Amp.

                In 1978 when I had some money I bough a pair of Tannoy Cheviots and a Sugden A48/T48. I only sold the Sugden a couple of years ago - it had served various tasks when no longer Amp One, and latterly drove a pair of Goodmans Maxims in the study.

                20 odd years ago I bought a pair of MB Quart 980s while serving in Germany. I still have those as my lounge speakers here in Nicosia. They are driven by a refurbished Quad 405-2, but for years were used with a Quad 77 Integrated Amp. That Amp I have in my Southampton flat driving the Maxims. Those need upgrading, and to Harbeth I shall probably go - I buy and keep a long time.

                But to topic. The maxims sound quite civilised driven by the Quad 77: they sounded exactly the same with the Sugden A48. If I paired the Maxims with my son's first amp (one of Richer Sounds 30w cheapies) they sounded rough, ragged and awful.

                Yes, amps make a difference, but I guess once a certain level of competence is reached the differences disappear.

                Comment


                • #38
                  You know, I have to say I dispute this idea that people "refuse" to participate in double-blind tests. I, for one, would be absolutely fascinated to take part in a properly set-up double-blind test. But who's going to run such a test? I suspect it would require time and expense to do properly, and what's the payback? Either it's going to be done by someone who's funded to do pure research (e.g. the old BBC), or it probably just isn't going to happen. An audio magazine or website is primarily in the entertainment business, not the science business, and if they can sell advertising without the expensive setup protocols involved in double-blind testing, why would they do it?

                  Still, given that no one does it any more, maybe there's a market niche to be filled. I won't be the one to fill it, but if someone else gives it a go, I'll follow the experiment with great interest.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Labarum View Post
                    but I guess once a certain level of competence is reached the differences disappear.
                    yes, hear hear. this is what i feel. the differences are not that obvious any more after this "point", to the extent that its not worth bothering about. personally imho, if i were to put a figure on it, think it starts to level off at the USD 1.5-2.5 K mark. Like i mentioned in a previous post, my personal values (its crazy to spend more) start to kick in.

                    Now we are talking about straight gear here, no fancy esoteric, "i must use this cable" "keep me on all the time" nonsense amps we see. They are not part of the equation....and no made in the backyard passing off as cottage industry, "every piece signed off by the designer" nonsense either. A straightforward amp will do the job great.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Labarum View Post
                      Detailed chemical analysis of each wine would show the differences. How the chemical composition would correlate to the descriptions given by experts I cannot say. It would be an interesting experiment.
                      Not just the "descriptions given by experts" but the experiences and perceptions of those consuming the product. I doubt you can correlate the chemical composition of wine with the subjective experience of its quality, except perhaps at a fairly gross level. And even if you could, so what? In the end, we're human beings, not measuring instruments. Isn't it the experience that counts, ultimately? I mean, I'm more than sympathetic to the idea of rationality and of scientific rigour, but how far do you want to take it? Do you want your brain chemistry analyzed before you decide you're in love, or would you rather just have the experience?

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Labarum View Post
                        Yes, amps make a difference, but I guess once a certain level of competence is reached the differences disappear.
                        The USD80 mini-combo that I retired recently would not even drive P3ES2! I have to disconnect one channel for it to make some wimpy sound. Not too long ago I was using a Rotel integrated that has not been serviced for over 20 years, driving an equally old KEF bookshelf speakers. It sounded as dry as the capacitors inside (but still sounded better than my CRT TV). I may juice up again if I refurbish it. But then new amplifiers are so cheap....

                        The point where amplifiers will begin to sound the same - I believe is quite low (in price). I believe that a reputable Japanese maker is incapable of making something obviously bad with 30 years old technology.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by EricW View Post
                          You know, I have to say I dispute this idea that people "refuse" to participate in double-blind tests.
                          The guys who refuse are basically cowards and would/ could loose all credibility in public. they wouldnt dare (and probably magazine hire guidelines say they shouldnt participate, publicly anyway). they'd rather go into a dark room, draw the curtains, turn the key, huddle and pray. stereophile has reviewers who have publicly refused. Its too risky, its large advertising revenue. Im starting to notice that a local rag basically refuses to even do direct comparisons now, eg amp vs. amp. recommending one sidelines the other, both advertisers. if ever thats a rock and hard place.

                          ha ha, talking about rock and hard place. our opposition leader lost all credibility last night. the tv interviewer (Kerry OBrien) basically got him into admitting that he basically changes his stance/ opinions aka lie.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Labarum View Post
                            Detailed chemical analysis of each wine would show the differences. How the chemical composition would correlate to the descriptions given by experts I cannot say. It would be an interesting experiment.
                            Looks like I still need to offer more thoughts here although I would like to stop here as it is. Yes, agreed that the chemical composition of wines can be determined with analysis, but question is how can the results relate to taste. The same applies to sound. What are the unit measurements in measuring characteristics of sound. Frequency response and volume levels etc. can be measured by units(Hz, dB), but can soul and emotion in music be measured. Some will argue they don't exist. I don't know about others but similarly to Kathylim if my music does not connect to me then it doesn't sound good. In this respect my experience coincides with his in that some amps do better than others when it comes to presentation/delivery of music.

                            Now, that brings the next question on double blind test. There may be a lot of hocus-pocus in the audio industry, no doubt about that. Question is how many tests have been carried out so far and what are the objectives behind those tests? I wager it is the skeptics that will attempt to carry out these tests to prove that sound differences between equipment are negligible to the point of non-existent. To us there is nothing to prove as we know what we hear. However, there are some, actually one who keeps pontificating the same point relentlessly and expressing his strong cynicism by relying on experiences of others and articles from the web without exposing himself to the experience, which I find rather peculiar. Maybe another form of self-appease.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by ryder View Post
                              I wager it is the skeptics that will attempt to carry out these tests to prove that sound differences between equipment are negligible to the point of non-existent.
                              Umm, yes and no… but i probably wouldnt push it to the extent that its non existent.

                              When someone says they can’t connect to their music, the first alarm bell is something capacitative in the system. Checked this with the said fellow member and a “special” cable is indeed running between amp and speaker. Replacing with normal cable changes the sound positively. Amps which need special cables are not good amps. Sorry if I offend anyone. You want to mess with esoteric gear which has special requirements; you are going to get significant changes and a very perceivable difference in sound. You have opted for the path of pain in setting up a system . Good music just comes out from plug and play equipment and there are plenty of them around. This is what is leading some to feel that amps are so much more different than they really are. They are not.

                              If we compare an aged amp (which hasn’t been serviced) and a relatively new decent one in good condition, or one which has a high capacitance cable attached and one which doesn’t, there will be differences. Any decent well maintained mainstream amp (which measures well) with sufficient power connected with simple cables at moderate levels will sound quite similar, not the same, and there shouldn’t be a reason why one should have the magic the other doesn’t.

                              Amps like Naim, NVA. Roksan. need tetanus shots every 2 weeks.

                              Decent amps (some great ones among them) which will sound quite similar between them at living room levels…..

                              Bryston BP6, 2B pre power
                              Marantz SM11S SC11S pre power
                              Yamahas AS 2000
                              Parasounds P3 and A23 pre power
                              Brystons B100
                              Marantz PM 11
                              XIndax XA8520 XA 8800MNE pre power
                              Avondale S200 power (you might want to wait for their preamp)
                              Dussun V8
                              Anthem I225
                              Rotel 1520
                              Denon PMA 1500
                              Marantz PM 15
                              Yamahas AS 1000
                              Marantz PM8003
                              Brystons B60
                              Marantz PM6003
                              Yamaha AS 700
                              Pioneer A9 or even A6
                              Marantz PM 5003
                              Dussun T6
                              Denon PMA 500/510
                              Rotel RA 04
                              NAD 315 BEE

                              Blind test these amps, not ones hiding behind the “esoteric” banner.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Guess this debate is not getting us anywhere...may i suggest that we stick to our beliefs or opinions, sit back, relax & enjoy music on our wonderful Harbeth loudspeakers while anticipating for the arrival of the Harbeth integrated amplifier.

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